Korean / Cup with Handle / Three Kingdoms period, Kaya kingdom, early 6th centuryKorean
Cup with Handle
Three Kingdoms period, Kaya kingdom, early 6th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Korean
Creator Name-CRT: Korean
Title: Cup with Handle
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 500
Creation End Date: 533
Creation Date: Three Kingdoms period, Kaya kingdom, early 6th century
Creation Place: Korea
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Earthenware with incised and pierced design and ash glaze
Dimensions: H. 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm); W. 3 3/4 in. (9.5 cm) including handle
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1989.003
Credit Line: Asia Society: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Acquisitions Fund
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: Although Korean ceramics remain relatively unknown in the West, they have long been studied in East Asia. The history of Korean ceramics can be traced back to about 5000 BCE, when simple earthenwares were made and used. Some of the most appealing and charming Korean ceramics date to the period of the Three Kingdoms (c. 57 BCE-CE 668). During this time, Korea was controlled by three or four different kingdoms: Koguryo in the north and Shilla (or Early Shilla), Paekche, and Kaya in the south. The presence in this list of Kaya, which could be called a fourth kingdom, reflects the historical fact that this small kingdom was absorbed by Shilla in about 562, a century before Shilla united the Korean peninsula and established the Unified Shilla dynasty (668-935). Although little is known about Kaya, recent archaeological discoveries indicate that many of the shapes and types of decoration found in Shilla ceramics may have originated in Kaya and were incorporated into the art of Shilla during the 6th century.

The dark color of the fired body and natural ash glaze of this small handled cup and its articulated shape and decoration typify Kaya ceramics from the 5th and early 6th centuries. The glaze was created during the firing process, when ashes in the kiln melted onto the surface of the ceramic. It is generally believed that such melted ashes, which created an accidental glazing, were partially responsible for the development of glaze technology at a very early date in East Asia. The cup has a stemlike base that has been pierced in several places with small rectangular holes. Crosshatches are incised around the middle of the cup, and the top is carefully shaped. Pierced pedestals such as that on this cup are one of the most distinctive characteristics of early Korean ceramics. Pedestals of this type are ubiquitous in ceramics dating to the Three Kingdoms and Unified Shilla periods; they occur as part of some pieces and as freestanding supports for other pottery vessels. The function and meaning of these pedestals is not known. However, it is possible that they distinguish ceramics used in rituals or ceremonies from those intended for more mundane tasks.

AMICA ID: ASIA.1989.003
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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